Co-Parenting With Alexa

from NYTs

You are going to have a chance to play with Alexa,” I told my daughter, Grace, who’s 3 years old. Pointing at the black cylindrical device, I explained that the speaker, also known as the Amazon Echo, was a bit like Siri but smarter. “You can ask it anything you want,” I said nonchalantly.

Grace leaned forward toward the speaker. “Hello, Alexa, my name is Gracie,” she said. “Will it rain today?” The turquoise rim glowed into life. “Currently, it is 60 degrees,” a perky female voice answered, assuring her it wouldn’t rain.

Over the next hour, Grace figured out she could ask Alexa to play her favorite music from the film “Sing.” She realized Alexa could tell jokes, do math or provide interesting facts. “Hey, Alexa, what do brown horses eat?” And she soon discovered a whole new level of power. “Alexa, shut up,” she barked, then looked a little sheepish and asked me if it was O.K. to be rude to her. So she thought the speaker had feelings?

By the next morning, Alexa was the first “person” Grace said hello to as she bounded into the kitchen wearing her pink fluffy dressing gown. My preschooler who can’t yet ride a bike or read a book had also quickly mastered that she could buy things with the bot’s help, or at least try to.

“Alexa, buy me blueberries,” she commanded. Grace, of course, had no idea that Amazon, the world’s biggest retailer, was the corporate behemoth behind the helpful female assistant, and that smoothing the way when it came to impulse buys was right up Alexa’s algorithmic alley.

More here.

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90 Responses to Co-Parenting With Alexa

  1. Timothy Wiamer January 30, 2018 at 10:45 am #

    Technology is always advancing and every year there is a new gadget that catches our attention because it’s better, faster, and does something completely new to us. This is why Siri and Alexa have been so popular. Before they came out, nothing similar had ever been launched. And we as consumers are so fast to eat this all up. The question is whether or not we rely too much on these devices, especially those that use AI. Children growing up in today’s society are exposed to all this technology at such a young age. To them, it’s the norm to be surrounded and use AI on an every day basis. That’s the whole point of using something like Alexa. It allows everyone in the family to communicate and ask it questions and it answers them immediately. It can turn the lights on/off, play music or give suggestions, as the article says, on what to eat or wear. The problem right now is that children are growing up without thinking for themselves and are relying too much on these AI devices. I believe that this definitely interferes with their brain development because as children they learn to question things and learn how to form their own ideas. If they are constantly relying on AI devices and not coming up with solutions on their own, they will never develop the way that they are supposed to. It will be interesting to see, in the long run, how this will actually effect their development. When these generations of children go through high school and college education, will they be able to formulate ideas on their own and comprehend better than what high school and college students are currently doing? At present, they wholeheartedly trust AI’s and don’t question whether or not they are telling the truth. As the article states, her daughter would rather ask Alexa what to wear than her own mother. I think parents should use caution when using technology with children. Technology is great. It’s amazing what can be done with the use of technology and children should definitely be exposed to it. However, with that being said, they should have a limit. Perhaps putting a limit on screen time or only using AI’s for certain things should be permitted. That way, children still learn to rely on themselves and also not trust technology completely, since we truly don’t know what can happen with technology in the future.

  2. Sylwia Marut January 31, 2018 at 8:29 pm #

    Technology has experienced rapid advancement since the early 2000’s, and continues to evolve swiftly. Every month in advertisements posted by consumer electronics companies (online, of course), there are gadgets with the latest technology, software updates, or altered features aimed at catching the eyes of consumers. However, as the technology world transfigures, a very important question must be pondered: when will it be too much?
    Children born within the past five to ten years in developed countries are growing up in a world where being surrounded by technology is all they know. Technology, to them more than anyone, is an infrastructure, a basic structure needed for the operation of society. As Botsman discusses in her article, people are forming relationships with artificial intelligence and becoming dependent on them to help with day-to-day decisions. Artificial intelligence is helpful in ways such as cutting down time it takes to complete certain tasks and helping people stay on top their busy lives. However, I strongly believe that exposing children to artificial intelligence such as Amazon’s Alexa is taking away their ability to think for themselves and stripping them of creativity.
    Having an Alexa device in my own home, I could relate to Botsman’s point of children being able to put their trust to robots so quickly. Over my college winter break, I witnessed my seven year old sister ask Alexa to explain the synopsis of storybooks for her as well as provide her answers to math problems. I was shocked when she turned to Alexa instead of her family members for homework help. Through this experience, I realized an important point: children are losing human interaction by being connected to technology and artificial intelligence. I want my sister to have the same kind of upbringing that my generation had as young children: thinking freely, developing genuine curiosity, and being creative through means other than technology. With Alexa, what is there to be curious about, think critically about, or ask someone about when she can provide automated answers to millions of questions in just seconds? Yes, Alexa can be very useful in some trivial everyday jobs. However, robots do not have emotional capabilities and intelligence like humans do, and no robot will ever be able to replace human interaction.
    As Botsman briefly discusses, Amazon’s “Echo Look” allows fashion specialists to help people decide what to wear and what outfits look best on them through a voice controlled camera. Although a seemingly helpful tool, the thought of this made me uncomfortable. How biased are these “fashion specialists” employed by Amazon, and why should I trust someone that I have no relationship with or has never seen me in person to tell me what looks best on me? These questions go back to the point that it is easy to rely too heavily on artificial intelligence. Devices such as Alexa can absent-mindedly deceive us to think we have a relationship with them, when, in fact, it is impossible to have a relationship with a robot that is programmed to say or do certain commands or tasks. I strongly agree with Botsman’s point, we must be aware of children developing relationships with “computer-people”. I certainly do not want a generation of future doctors, lawyers, engineers, or other professionals relying on artificial intelligence to think for them or give them advice. I think older generations can easily make the distinction of when trusting artificial intelligence crosses the line because they have only been exposed to it for a limited amount of time. However, Botsman is right in her statements. If you have a young child at home, leave Alexa in the closet.

  3. Grace Galuppo February 2, 2018 at 10:10 am #

    The dependence on technology has increased vastly in the past several years. In addition, children start learning how to use technology at an early age. It is important for parents to monitor how their children are using technology; however, many parents are unaware of the implications that come with technology usage.
    After reading this article, I was shocked to learn about the marketing strategies that lies behind Amazon’s Alexa. Amazon are working on a product called an Echo Look, which has a feature that will allow the Alexa to take a hand – free selfie with voice recognition. The camera will allow Amazon’s cloud to see what clothes you wear, which they can use to formulate specific advertisements for that particular consumer. Although I believe that Amazon is invading the privacy of their consumers, I must admit that their advertising strategy is brilliant. Furthermore, Amazon will be able to use the data their devices collect for their personal gain or they can sell to another company. Amazon is already a huge powerhouse, but with their increasing data and information about consumers, they will have no competition.
    I do not have an Alexa, but many of the kids I babysit have one and use it frequently. Similarly to Gracie, the children I babysit for like to ask Alexa to play their favorite music or to tell them a joke. I did notice how dependent the children are on their Alexa. In addition, the younger children tend to have a greater reliance on Alexa and other technologies than the older ones. For instance, whenever a younger child has a question they ask Alexa for the answer, instead of trying to figure out what the answer could be. My observations lines up with the M.I.T. Media Lab experiment, where they took a sample of twenty – seven children to test Alexa, Google Home, Julie, and Cozmo devices. The results show that 80% of children believed that Alexa was telling the truth and the younger children saw the devices as real people.
    What will the world look like in fifty years when those children growing up with these devices grow up? In order to avoid the privacy problems that come along with using devices like Alexa, parents must be aware of what they are allowing in their houses. If parents taught their young children to be mindful of what they are using to Alexa or how they use their other data because everything can be tracked.

  4. Samara Simboli February 2, 2018 at 3:06 pm #

    For many parents, their children are grabbing at their tablets or smartphones to play some sort of game or watch a YouTube clip. If you were to go to a restaurant or any public place for that matter, you will most likely see a child on a phone or tablet or a child crying and whining for said phone or tablet. Being that it seems that young children are obsessed with playing with electronics, it would make sense to me for young children to have a more trusting nature to this new AI system called Alexa. A lot of us did not grow up with phones and tablets at our disposal, so our addiction to our electronics did not start until we were older. So, to us, this might seem really scary, but iTunes was around and if your mom or dad had an account you probably tried to buy a song or two without them noticing. I know I did, and I got in a lot of trouble for doing so, but to me, this is very similar just instead of spending maybe $15 on an album the child has the power to buy anything and everything that Amazon has to offer.

    It seems as though our society has become more and more reliant on AI technology. I know I have to be very careful when talking about things with friends as I have Google Assistant on my phone which response to “Okay Google” if I were to use those words together in a sentence my phone would wake up and search the phrase that left my mouth. My parents own an Echo and they have noticed that sometimes it will just listen in on a conversation even when it is not engaged to do so. To me, that is very freaky as it seems to be that Alexa is collecting information on you. It seems like Alexa is a real person, so when the author’s daughter told Alexa to “shut up” it almost should come as no surprise because we would say that to a human being. Not that we should really say that to a person’s face. When the author mentions how she is worried about her daughter’s actions being judged by Alexa, I am not sure if Alexa is really judging more the software within the monitor recognizes what patterns or colors go together not the fact that something does not look good on someone. I think Alexa gives suggestions such as maybe wear a heavy sweater as it is going to be cold today. But, it is scary to think that children trust a robot or AI more than they do actual people. Our society is moving towards more having everything being online or controlled by a machine of some sort, and the younger generation is obviously picking up on that. Rather than trusting an adult, young children are gravitating towards learning that trusting technology is better, which is probably not the case.

  5. Sebastien Jose Fortes February 2, 2018 at 4:52 pm #

    The Amazon Echo could, in my opinion, create a real life dystopia. A dystopia refers to a community or society in which a concept intended as a solution becomes a problem itself. The Amazon Echo, known by other names such as “Alexa” or just “Echo”, was created for the sake of convenience. It tells the time, plays music, buys products on Amazon, and recites the weather forecast in response to its name.

    As we can see in the article above, it could become more than just a convenience—it could become a crutch. The Echo can look up answers quickly, which could discourage critical thinking. Furthermore, Alexa has been known for “agreeing” with liberal social justice movements, including feminism and Black Lives Matter, which can create a bias in the political landscape, especially if the members of said movements take irrational actions and begin to stand for negative ideals.

    Alexa is not alone in shaping the minds of today’s youth. Studies have shown that tablet and phone screens have affected children in a similar way to cocaine, causing them to spend (read here as “waste”) over eight hours a day on the Internet. Many kids can be seen in public playing Minecraft or watching YouTube videos—this is problematic because these kids can be exposed to all manner of horror on the Internet.

    When I was eight, I wasn’t allowed to stay on the Internet for over an hour at a time. When I was eleven I realized why.

    When kids watch YouTube videos, they can be exposed to vloggers, and some may be known for their scandals. Logan Paul recently posted a video showing the dead body of a Japanese suicide victim, and his brother has been accused of bullying. These same young men are also known for working out and traveling to other countries, so kids may take them for role models.

    So if kids use Alexa, an imperfect AI, to plan out their outfits, play potentially explicit music, or impulse-buy blueberries they don’t need, we may as well move toward a society like the ones portrayed in Brave New World, 1984, or Infinite Jest—none of which have ever been portrayed positively.

  6. Senada Ramic February 2, 2018 at 10:32 pm #

    In today’s society, seeing a two year old with an iPhone or iPad in their hand has become the norm. Today’s generation, technology has become an integral part in our everyday lives. I personally witness my 3 year old nephew Aydin glued to his IPad every time I see him. Eventually his eyes turn red and he can barely see, but he cannot get enough. In these types of situations, parents need to step in and create limitations or schedules for their children. For Example, when Graces mom first introduced her to Alexa she told her “You can ask it anything you want”. This is how Grace ended up getting carried away immediately. Technology for children is very fun, interactive, and educational, so it is easy for children to get distracted by it. Technology has become a need for humans. It is so involved in our lives that we begin to start asking it for answers rather than figuring it out ourselves. In the article, Grace thought she offended Alexa by saying “shut up”. This is where as a parent you can begin to explain to a child the difference between human and technological device interactions. Kids believe that technology, such as Alexa have feelings because at a young age we are still developing our brains and learning what is real and not.

    In the article it asks, “How do we teach our children to question not only the security and privacy implications but also the ethical and commercial intentions of a device designed by marketers?” Well for example, instead of telling Grace she can ask Alexa anything she wants, her mother could have instead given her a list of simple and educational questions to start off with. This way Grace cannot get carried away and in return can actually learn something. Technology is also very convenient, most households have at least two computers in two different rooms and in addition to that may have an IPad which can be taken anywhere. In this situation, Alexa is a tiny box that can be easily picked up by a child and taken from room to room. A good idea would be to give your child a limit on a piece of technology and let them know that they have half an hour to play or experiment with it instead of having it around the whole day. You cannot really explain to a child as the article states that Alexa is a “corporate algorithm in a black box.” However, you as a parent may understand that and be in control of how much time they spend around technology.

    I agree with Graces mom putting Alexa back in the closet, because she noticed that as a parent you should be the one guiding your child, helping them out, and teaching them about the world. Technology should not be replacing the role of a parent, it can be a helpful tool, but understand that younger generations will be too trusting of devices designed by marketers. There is nothing wrong with letting your children be around technology, like anything else it is all about setting limitations for them and letting them know what those limitations are and why those rules were made. Kids learn as they grow and experiencing everything is beneficial in moderation.

  7. SK February 3, 2018 at 10:46 pm #

    In today’s generation, seeing little kids playing games on their iphones rather than playing monopoly board games does not surprise me at all. As technology grows rapidly, kids are surrounded by a technology reliable world. Whether we want to book movie tickets online or know what is going on at the white house, the answers are right in the palm of our hands. As a preschooler, of course Gracie just wanted to have fun, but when does fun turn in to an unhealthy habit? Kids nowadays, and us from time to time heavily rely on technology to get some quick answers or just want to hear a joke. Technicity is a powerful tool that without it today, it is very difficult to succeed.
    The Amazon echo’s initial purpose was to have convenient way of gaining knowledge without the “hassle” of pulling out your phone or laptop. As a sales representative at a technology store myself, the Amazon echo is used in very efficient ways to serve a high level of security and used just for laughs. As older generations understand the utility of it, kids abuse it as exactly how Grace did: an answer to everything. With all these new gadgets on the market from an apple watch to a tv screen on refrigerators, the younger generations do not think anymore! Rewind before 1998 when Google did not exist, humans actually had to apply their knowledge to get accurate answers. With these new technological advances, kids do not even think before relying on technology for an answer.
    The Amazon echo or “Alexa” is a world leading retailer that gives skewed and confident answers that can easily manipulate kids. As Gracie asked “Alexa” what she should wear, it does not shock me “Alexa” referred to Amazon’s clothing line. If a child asks “where can I find…,” “Alexa” would obviously refer to Amazon and offer the best prices and hassle-free customer service. Of course kids would feed in to “Alexa’s” advice because they have developed a sad but true relationship with technology. The old saying “everything on the internet is not true,” is slowly deteriorating. Technology is bias, manipulative and teaching kids about reliability rather than problem solving.
    Raising kids based on problem solving or “piecing the puzzle together” should be an asset they carry. Introducing the younger generation to new technology is inevitable, however, they should be taught how and when it is okay to resort to technology as a source. Allowing kids to wander and figure out an answer to a question logically from a young age will become so much more valuable than saying “ask Alexa.” The Amazon echo is a great technological advancement, however technology should not become a replacement for curiosity.

  8. Kayla Washington February 5, 2018 at 11:40 pm #

    Many would agree that the evolution of technology has radically impacted our society over the years. For generations, people have experienced devices such as the washer and dryer machines, cars, and even the internet become a luxury to necessity. You see, the true problem is that the more sophisticated these technological devices become, the easier it is for the newer generation to become more open and dependent on it.

    Consider the role of a parent. Their job is to “promote and support the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of their child from infancy to adulthood”(Wikipedia). Yet, artificially intelligent devices like Siri, are now playing a huge part in raising the younger generation. In the article, Co-Parenting With Alexa by Rachel Botsman, she explains the impact that technology has over the newer generation, specifically children between the ages of 3-10 years old. For instance, Botsman described the shift in her 3 year old daughter’s,Grace, personality after interacting with a intelligent device known as Amazon Echo, similar to Siri but smarter, named Alexa. To be clear, in only a matter of days of engaging with the device, it wasn’t long until Botsman quickly realized that Grace had put all of her into Alexa. For example, Grace would ask her device to solve math problems for her and even asked Alexa to decide what she should wear to school, but was resistant to her own mother’s opinions. Ultimately, this situation may appear to be harmless, but there are serious problems that lead if this behavior was to continue.

    As I previously stated, devices that are artificially intelligent exert enormous influence over young children’s development. Take into account that physically, children who dedicate several hours on their device are likely to become lazy. The reason for that being is because they may allow smart toys like Alexa dictate what they should be spending their time on like, shopping for brands, or simply encouraging activities that require you to be online and reject the idea of playing at the playground or participating in sports. This leads to lazy behavior and can make many obese. Socially, these children will find it hard to make in-person connections because they lack the social skills to do so, which is apparent with my present generation. For example, many of peers and I have become so used to being on our phones that when we are at social gatherings we do not always pay attention to our surroundings. Moving along, mentally a generation of mindless children are on the rise because, several of them, like Grace, illustrated an alarming amount of trust in the “ human-like emotion devices and toys including Alexa, Google Home, Julie (a chatbot) and, finally, Cozmo (a robot in the form of a toy bulldozer)” (Botsman 16-17).

    Interestingly enough, this article reminded me of the 2004 American science fiction action film, I Robot directed by Alex Proyas. In short, the movie illustrates the relationship between humans and robots in the future, year 2035. During that time, most of human population was wholeheartedly trusting a huge system of robots which later became a large threat to humanity. This compares to Botsman’s article because we as a society are heading in that direction. Keep in mind that for generations, as the article stated, “our trust in [technology] has gone no further than feeling confident the machine or mechanism will do what it’s supposed or expected to do, nothing more, nothing less” (Botsman par. 6). This can be shown in how we trust a dish washer machine to clean our plates and utensils or, even an A.T.M. to safely secure our funds and dispense the accurate amount of money we requested. Furthermore, in a rapidly changing world, more and more people are losing their freedom to think and do for themselves because they allow devices, like Alexa, to think and do for them. With that being said, I feel as though parents need to strictly limit their child’s usage of certain devices and encourage activities and books that will help them have analytical and critical minds. If they do not think for themselves they will easily become victims to the money hungry businesses that prey on their ignorance.

    Ultimately, I strongly believe that being too trusting and reliant on computers and technology will be our downfall, similar to the situation in I Robot. Oddly enough, parents are completing with technological devices when it comes to guiding their children. Therefore, we have to be careful with the new devices that we embrace, especially parents.

  9. Joseph Sada February 7, 2018 at 5:06 pm #

    Computers and electronics are taking over this world right before our eyes. It is incredible and somewhat scary to see how technology has advanced since it was first introduced to the world sometime ago. It is crazy to think that in a couple of years all the things we grew up with will no longer be the center of the new generation and technology will be their life. We already see it happening in a big way today, but it is only going to get worse moving forward. There is always a certain device that takes over every couple of years and Apple has had the upper hand for the past few years, but the Amazon Echo has taken the world by storm and has become a huge hit while also becoming a household family member. This device or “friend” listens to everything one is saying and responds accordingly. As the article states, people may think this device is their friend, but in reality, it’s a business and Alexa is just here to help Amazon boost their sales for the year.
    In this article, the author speaks about how her daughter became very invested in Alexa. She went to Alexa for everything and most of the time asked Alexa before she asked her mother. To someone older, they would read this and be shocked that a young girl is talking to a electronic device for advice on what to wear, but to us, this is the normal thing. All the kids of this generation all want IPads and their own Alexa’s and they want nothing to do with toys. Toys are very outdated in this generation and it is sad to see that kids are no longer playing with them. It is tough to see the things that were once loved by thousands of kids just fade away into dust because of technology and the way this world is going.
    In a way, parents could look at technology in a positive way because it preoccupies their children when they are busy and cannot entertain them. On the other hand, it is seen as a negative because they will get so invested in technology that they will not live in the real world and fully understand the life in front of them. When will this whole technological movement stop growing so rapidly? It is a fear of everyones that the new kids of the generation won’t understand certain things and act different because they all grew up with Iphones and Alexas. The author raises a phenomenal point, when she says kids need to know when to trust technology and when to not. It is hard to differentiate when the appropriate time is especially when they all grew up having these devices.
    Technology could act like a parent in a certain cases for people because it sometimes teaches kids concepts maybe parents would overlook. It was a smart choice for the author to retire Alexa and put her in the closet for a mini vacation. Parents are trying to keep their kids away from being taken over by the technological world and with her daughter being very attached and dependent on Alexa, it was the proper time to pull the plug. A.I is becoming very real and up close, so it will be very hard to deflect what the future holds. As we have seen over the years, it is hard to slow technology down and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Alexa and the rest of the electronic devices will be taking over the kids christmas lists for a long time coming and it will be very difficult to see anyone put a stop to it and make the kids live the way some of the older generations used to live.

  10. Lauren Woodward February 8, 2018 at 12:36 am #

    With the extraordinary technology we have today, it seems that it’s use is growing at an fast and alarming rate. Before society has decided how to handle and limit extensive technology use, we’ve already created mass amounts of different devices that have progressed us into a new era. Among these gadgets include A.I. devices, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. While these devices are appealing to those that would regularly use them, such as adults that need help around the house, we as a society need to realize the effect A.I. devices are starting to have on those of younger age. In this article, a mother tests out the interactions between her 3 year old and their Amazon Echo device, and the results prove that while smart hubs are impressive in their make and usage, they are detrimental to the upbringing of our future generations.
    The introduction of Amazon Alexa was certainly an impressive step for our society to make. Soon enough, the device was in thousands of households and could do everything from tell you the weather to turning off your living room lights. Not only did the smart hub help typical families, but for instance, it helped my handicapped Uncle maneuver his house much more easily than he could before. However, the constant use of Alexa and development of bigger and better products, such as the Echo Show, leads to a dominating role over future and current generations. These generations start to build a “relationship” with the A.I. device; for example beginning to trust and talk to the devices as they would with a human being. That being said, younger children will start to have less people skills, in conjunction with their constant use of cell phones and other technology devices.
    When I was younger, having a cell phone, iPod, or using the computer for a lengthy period of time was never a scenario for me until I got to middle school. For my oldest sister, she wasn’t allowed to have any of that until early high school. Now, very young children are using the same amount of technology that I use now, which is incredibly surprising to know of and how parents are allowing it. Technology can open of world of possibilities to improve of knowledge, however we have to weigh the benefits with the consequences of such a development. The generation of technology and smart homes are already upon on, and though the breakthroughs are incredible, the outlook and aftermath of A.I. devices seem grim for many in terms of employment, growth of adolescents, and overall experience of life.

  11. Antonio Macolino February 8, 2018 at 9:29 pm #

    Technology in the world today is changing at an exponential pace. Just five short years ago AI was seen as almost impossible, yet not we have a wide variety of talking robotic devices such as Amazon’s Alexa. While these seem like amazing innovations that could make the world a better place, I cannot help but agree with the article and take the cautious approach with these devices. As seen through the eyes of the author’s daughter Grace, little kids do not fully understand that devices like Alexa are just glorified computers created by large companies. They also do not realize that part of these devices’ goal is to be used as a marketing tool to sell more product. Kids can order things without even knowing they ordered something. Also, some of these devices are coming out with new innovations that are solely there to help with marketing. An example of this would be the Amazon Echo Look. This device is a small camera attachment that can be added to Alexas. In doing this, the device can look at what you are wearing, and offer suggestions such as new clothes to buy that Amazon offers. What kids believe to be a friendly robot helping them make decisions, is actually just a marketing device trying to ease the process of buying certain things.
    As shown in the article, little kids cannot help but believe that these devices are like people. They become attached to them and start asking for advice about certain scenarios or try to have conversations with them. In my opinion, this is very dangerous. In the near future, small children will begin to trust these robots more and more. As stated in the article, this will have negative effects towards parents. Soon there will be a time where children would rather listen to a robot tell them what to wear rather than their parents. I feel that this will cause a bigger feeling of resentment towards parents. This is a very big deal for our generation. In ten plus years from now when we are all parents, are we going to have to battle with a robot to get our kids to listen to us?

  12. Luis F Gonzalez Jr February 9, 2018 at 8:22 am #

    The infusion of children and technology has increased severely throughout the ages. The more advanced our A.I. technology becomes and the more we implement them, the more our children will be exposed and interact with them. The author has a pessimistic view on technology and states, “Do we trust them too much?” She explains to us how her toddler/daughter has incorporated Alexa, Amazon’s Echo, in her life for almost every daily action. She begins to ask Alexa about her clothes for the day, homework questions, etc. and starts to form a relationship with the device as Rachel Botsman claims. This is a very interesting observation of her daughter, and in general how most children can easily become accustomed to their technological environment. This is very good in my opinion but needs to be regulated because too much of anything always becomes bad. It is the parent’s job to teach their children how to become responsible for themselves and not rely on technology for their basic needs. A perfect example of excessive use of technology is in the movie Wall-e. The cartoon takes place in a futuristic global nation society in which humans become obese from the lack of exercise and heavy reliance on technology. They become useless and are lost when they are taken away from their technology. In a sense, they dehumanize themselves and form an antisocial society. This is an effect already known to modern society as most children and adolescents struggle socially when interacting with others. This is a problem as it will prevent and weaken any communication between relationships. This will affect everything since communication is necessary in all aspects of life. It is vital for sharing ideas because a lack of interest would prevent any further discoveries or compromises in multiple areas where communication is necessary. Education would change and would become mostly a fact learning course instead of being exposed to liberal art courses and thoughts. Not only does this effect societal socially but weakens academic institutions. Another issues would be that humans would become a pawn in the eyes of superior A.I intelligence since we will no longer be able to self-evaluate and think for ourselves. We will become creatures instead of civilized citizens and I believe it will be the end of human society as we know it.

  13. Jessica Williams February 9, 2018 at 10:48 am #

    The rise in the use of technology in our society has undoubtedly made our lives easier, from doing chores at home to conducting a meeting online for work or school. Adjusting to a life shared with our robotic helpers has proven to be a somewhat smooth transition, however, the question that arises from the situation is how the younger generations will react to the presence of our AI companions. For some children, differentiating the company of a fellow peer versus artificial intelligence such as the Amazon Alexa can lead to developmental issues, particularly those regarding communication and relationship-building with real people.

    One of the issues mentioned in the article that pertains to these developmental problems would be the heavy reliance on the technology for small, everyday activities, such as getting dressed for the day. This could erase a sense of individuality and confidence in oneself for children because of the algorithms designed with a particular bias in mind. Unlike the advice of a human being, artificial intelligence would not think to spare the emotions of an individual and instead would give advice based on popular social trends. As a result, the robot would be completely disregarding the individual’s personal style, not because it is designed to be hurtful, but because of these biases that the device is programmed to display. In addition, in becoming accustomed to asking for the advice of a machine, an individual may become too reliant on the AI to make even more important decisions, such as to apply for a job or who to vote for in the election, as mentioned in the article. These aspects of the device would ultimately smother the individuality of a person, potentially discouraging them from ambition or even self-expression.

    As the owner of an Amazon Echo Dot, I do find these issues to be concerning for other individuals, although I do not have a young child or family member that visits me frequent enough to test the device. I personally don’t use my device as often, as I might ask it for the weather or for a briefing of current events. If someone is vulnerable to become reliant on the device such as a young child, however, I agree with the author’s choice of discarding the machine. While it may prove useful in the future, as I do also find it to be useful, a young child would be prone to becoming too reliant on the AI. This could be because they believe it to be a fascinating entity with an understanding that matches or is beyond that of a human’s, and it would be more efficient to just ask it a question and get an immediate answer, instead of thinking critically and making a decision themselves. The early developmental stages of a child are incredibly fragile, therefore, it is necessary to take the proper precautions to preserve the mental and psychological development of that child by removing or limiting the use of the device until that child becomes old enough to be able to distinguish it from a real human.

    • Daniel Colasanto February 9, 2018 at 4:36 pm #

      Jessica Williams,

      I completely agree of you analysis of AI technology and the developing mind. There are many red flags in my opinion on the possible negative affects AI technology in regards to cognitive brain development, critical thinking, and decision making. Great point!

      Daniel Colasanto

      • Daniel Colasanto February 9, 2018 at 4:38 pm #

        Correction: I completely agree with your analysis of AI technology and the developing mind.

  14. Luke Nadolny February 9, 2018 at 11:52 am #

    The advancements in technology have reshaped the way we live our everyday lives. With new A.I. systems such as Alexa and Siri, many people have began to put their trust in these machines hands. We are living in an age where technology dominates our everyday lives when we never had this treatment growing up. In the days when kids my age were being raised, we never had iPhones or mobile computers, we were still in the days of flips phones exclusive to different network providers. Nowadays I see little kids playing games on their parent’s iPhone in church, and remember what happened if I would pull out my GameBoy in church, it would not end well for me.

    Parents in today’s world seem to have placed more trust in technology to raise their kids and help them along the way to maturity. With the internet at children’s disposal, they can look up anything they want to and find out what any word means, including swear and derogatory words. I worked as a summer camp counselor and the things I would hear third grade kids tell me was unthinkable to me. There was one kid that told me he looked up a derogatory topic and I went insane knowing there is absolutely nothing stopping children from finding things out. When it gets to a point where an eight year old has an iPhone 8 with Snapchat, it calls to question how exactly their parents are raising them. With A.I. systems like Alexa, where there is no trace of anything spoken, kids can ask what things are and find out in a matter of seconds, without the parents knowing anything.

    When technology is used for good, children can learn so many things that can develop skills to use in the real world, however when children get curious in the wrong way, it can lead to problems with attitude and compliance. We need to start keeping track and limiting what children can see and not see until they are of age and their minds are more developed. Through the use of parental controls, which I know a lot of parents do not use, children can have limits on what things they can use technology for, when the parent feels comfortable with the progress their child has made, they can ease up on the limits. If we can limit technology use for children, we can better prepare them for the journey ahead.

  15. Tyler Grzybowski February 9, 2018 at 12:42 pm #

    As technology has advanced in the past few years speech recognition and the capabilities of AI have increased rapidly. In recent years several large corporations have released personal assistant devices to help humans with simple tasks in a more efficient and hands free way. One of these devices called Alexa by Amazon has been helping its owners out for over three years now. This intelligent personal assistant can perform all sorts of tasks. Alexa can answer all your random questions, read you the weather forecast, play music for you, control your lights and thermostat, create a too do list for you, or even order items for you off of Amazon. And that not it, Alexa connection to the cloud allows her to receive updates making her even more intelligent as time moves on. There are also a wide variety of skills that can be downloaded to extend Alexa’s capabilities. Alexa can order you a ride through Lyft, tell you the latest news or even tell you how your portfolios preforming. With the knowledge these artificial intelligence devices possess it’s no wonder young kids become very intrigued when given the chance to interact with a device such as Alexa. In Grace’s case Alexa fed her curiosity and she spent hours figuring out all the things Alexa could do such as play music from her favorite movie or tell her some facts about horses. Grace became attached to the device as evident from the fact that the next day as she came into the kitchen Alexa was the first to receive a hello. This shows how in the future the roles of technology will be starting to shift from a single task it’s expected to preform to influencing our decisions and making our own plans. While for adults this shift seems beneficial, the same might not be able to be said for young children. Alexa’s influence on Grace extended to where she would ask Alexa what she should do for the day and even what she should wear. What is unknown is the psychological repercussions of such interactions. According to a study done by M.I.T media lab children between the ages of three and ten interacted with a variety of A.I devices. The study found that the younger children believed the devices to be actual people and conversed with them as such. The study also found that 80% of the children believed everything the devices said was the truth and some believed they could teach the device how to do things such as make a paper airplane. In the future as these devices become common in even more households they affect the ways children grow up and how they are raised. It’s supposed to be a parent’s job to raise and teach their child about the world so it will be interesting to see how these devices fit in and how the role of parenting is altered.

  16. Daniel Kim February 9, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

    As someone who was born in the mid-nineties, I grew up when technology started to become famous. However, I did not know the tremendous impact it was having on society and corporate world. Back then, my aunt was merely showing me dinosaur pictures online. In elementary school, I had my first real exposure to computers when I was learning the alphabets. In the early 2000s, Facebook and Apples became the main headlines. Facebook competed against MySpace, eventually overtaking the latter. Apples were promoting its’ iPod on televisions. On the one hand, Facebook perfected the social media content where one person could send a message to a friend halfway around the world within seconds. On the other hand, Apples introduced a small device that can hold thousands of songs on your side. As technology continued to advance, I, like many others, believed that these innovations were a step closer to bringing people together.
    However, of course, the 2016 election proved otherwise. During the 2016 presidential election, supporters of both Democrats and Republicans started spewing their political ideologies on Facebook. Ironically, Facebook became one of the leading media platforms to divide among the American public. At the same time, social scientists and news outlets such as BBC discovered that social media such as Facebook often creates depression and anxiety in teens and young adults. The more hours a person spends on social media, the more likely that person will become depressed because of this innate need to compare one lifestyle with another. This social phenomenon begs the question of whether or not if we are ready for the next phase of technological advance: Alexa.
    As the world becomes more data and algorithmic driven, significant industries are shifting towards A.I.s and Internet of Things. This change means that we need more workers, skilled in data analysis, creating codes, and other tech-related talents. At the same time, this rapid pace of technological progress is leaving many non-tech people behind. We are arguably at fault here. Because we developed this instant gratification impulse, we demand our Amazon products to arrive on the next day. We demand we get the latest show on Netflix. We require knowing the most recent trends on Buzzfeed and Youtube.
    Before, many people believed that technology would bring harmony and peace. Now, technology seems to allow us to show the worst versions of ourselves. Therefore, I have to wonder if we, as human beings, are ready at all for the next innovation that may have lasting, harmful repercussions in our society if we do not consider all the ethical and moral consequences. Who knows? Maybe, Skynet will rule us sooner than we think.

  17. Damian Mioduszewski February 9, 2018 at 3:58 pm #

    Alexa is a creation from Amazon that has become a household name in a very short period of time. An AI who you can talk to and ask questions whenever you’re bored and it will respond is simply astonishing. No longer do you have to type on a computer and search though google results for your question. Instead you can now talk to your new found “friend” Alexa who can conveniently order groceries or other necessities for you which will arrive in 1 or 2 days by simply talking to it. This creation of a household AI (Alexa) which is significantly more advanced than other AI such as Siri has the potential to help many people with their daily tasks or satisfy their thirst for knowledge.

    Interestingly in this article a young mother is busy with her duties as a mother and tells her 3 year old daughter to go play with Alexa which would just be simply mind boggling to any person outside of this millennial generation. With the three year old easy embrace of this machine there is also cause to worry, a perfect example presents itself in the article when the three year old screams to buy blueberries. There are obviously some minor inconveniences such as now paying for blueberries and having to teach your child to not order stuff with Alexa without your approval. Along with those minor inconveniences you have some serious privacy issues to worry about as the machine is always going to be listening to your conversations transmitting what it hears to AWS (Amazon Web Services). Along with all those store conversations and knowledge it can lead to other problems such as large corporations creating a profile on you and selling your information

    With the presence of such an advanced AI which can answer difficult questions and has the ability to talk back this has caused many children who have very little check and balances as they don’t know any better to trust the machines. With the drastically changing world around us we must teach and groom the younger generations to adapt to the new technology. We must teach them that even though Alexa or other machines are friendly that they should not be fully trusted. The machines should be used for functions and they are not your friends because the same way they are used for your needs they can be used for someone else’s needs. An example would a hacker reprograming it to listen into your conversations to hear what you are talking about.

  18. Mathew Gonzalez February 9, 2018 at 4:07 pm #

    The Amazon Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant and hands-free speaker that the user can control with their voice. What we, the consumers, see is an entertaining and useful product for our households for friendly reminders and an outlet for music, but Alexa is also a step towards the age of autonomous agents. In this article, the author’s daughter grows an attachment towards the Alexa and communicates with it for all her needs regarding weather, clothing, and desires for food. The concept that the device can adapt to answer questions regarding the user doesn’t seem to bother the daughter, but the author is worried that this connection and trust invested into the Alexa is frightening. Now that the Alexa can make decisions for us, where does it end? Children will grow into the world already adapted to using artificial intelligence throughout their lives, and surrender thinking to these products developed by Amazon. From Amazon’s perspective, they collect all the information recorded from the Alexa and can better identify what to sell to that particular consumer.
    As a college student, there is a constant barrage of deadlines always in the horizon entering each week. Having an Amazon Alexa would simply be a vocal event planner tackling this issue, but with advancements in technology, there is always the negative side to them. From a previous work experience, multiple of my coworkers and myself would play “Jeopardy” using the Amazon Alexa or constantly be strolling through songs to play next on the Spotify playlist connected to it. As advanced as Alexa is, I found it very unproductive the moment any of my coworkers started to communicate with it. Also, the collection of “private” information such as our daily lives within our homes feels like an evasion of privacy, but I have to agree that the everyday consumer wants to be told exactly what to buy or do. If this is the only means of collecting the information to tell consumers exactly what they should be purchasing, it is effective, and I appreciate the initiative of Amazon to take that step towards satisfying their customers.

  19. Daniel Colasanto February 9, 2018 at 4:28 pm #

    Artificial Intelligence and it’s applications are becoming more and more apart of our everyday lives and how we spend our time and money. After reading this article I am inspired to see such amazing technology being developed by the greatest minds in the world today. Just reading about all of the applications of this cutting edge industry and advancements are incredible. There are some questions that I thought of while reading though. Why are companies using AI? Does AI make our lives more convenient? What information will AI devices gather from its user? And also, who will be allowed access to the information gathered from AI products such as Siri or Alexa?
    Why are companies using AI?
    In my opinion, companies are using AI to improve their business and maximize profit. From what I have learned as a business student at Seton Hall I know that a firm’s number one goal is to maximize profit. It is important to know why these companies are using AI because then it will give you a better understanding of their motives. Even if companies create technologies like Siri and Alexa, consumers should always be aware that businesses want to learn as much as they can about you because they want you to buy their products and services.
    Does AI make our lives more convenient?
    I believe that AI makes our everyday lives more convenient and also allows humans to create complex algorithms that can be utilized for finances, decision making, and more. It is a very valuable and useful tool.
    What information will AI gather from its user?
    To me personally, I think this is a extremely important question to ask before buying or downloading any service or software that uses artificial intelligence. To many people it is unknown how companies will gather information about them and even companies want certain types of information about its customers. But people buy new products without doing much research on this possible issue. I believe the public should know more about how companies are using AI to gather information and why.
    Who will be allowed access to the information gathered from AI?
    This is probably the most important question that all consumers should know the answer to. Unfortunately companies do not always share that information with the public for strategic reasons. However, knowledge is power and with great power comes great responsibility which is why I feel there should be regulation around the buying and selling of information gathered by AI technology. No one would want their personal information to be misused or mishandled resulting in a harmful scam, hack, or any other legitimate security threats.

  20. Lucas Rodriguez February 9, 2018 at 5:39 pm #

    It seems as if the modern world is encapsulated within the progressive walls of technology; breathing the toxic fumes of today’s version of yesterday’s industrialization era. As intellectuals we tend to perceive the development of technology in an optimistic aspect, as it grants us capabilities that had once seemed ineffable. In contemporary times, we have vehicles that stop themselves, devices that recognize facial features and have the ability to proffer countless information, and virtual piggybanks on our “smart” phones. Technology has become the backbone of our society and is a source we have become increasingly dependent on. We treat these modern technological innovations as if they were a product of some deity that transcends mankind; something that we put our full faith towards. This blog stumbles upon the problematic revolution in terms of an overview of the pernicious development of new gadgets. Like the text exemplifies through its example of Amazon’s new device “Alexa”, we have become increasingly dependent on the products in our modern society and our children may be shaped by its implications. Nowadays, it seems almost normative for a child to be walking around with some sort of tablet or phone, completely glued to the programs that the device conceals. Mindlessly walking through the park or local mall, these children completely tune out their environment and are invested in the product which they so desperately grasp. This idea not only represents the concept that our youth have permitted their undivided attention towards these systems of entertainment, but we have become structured to live our lives like that of a mine cart following the rails of technology, allowing this path to determine our existence. As the author of the article illustrates, Amazon has released a newly developed item that allows sophisticated communication between the product and its user. “Alexa”, which seems to be the main focus of the article, is an intelligent assistant personal manager that was first introduced through Amazon Echo. It has features capable of tasks such as voice interaction, music playback, creating and formatting to-do-lists, setting notifications, providing weather, and news. It is rather palpable that this technological age may be for the betterment of our societies, but rather than utilizing these technologies for our personal use, we are the ones being used. We put all of our secure information in these mobile platforms and our deepest trust in these creations. We expect these newly developed items to perform our everyday task, completely absorbing the little amount of humanity we have left in ourselves. As the writer of this blog concludes, Grace (the Author’s daughter) was so immersed into the device that she started to tune out her own parents, asking Alexa for advice and conversing with the machine. Just as the age of paperback textbooks is slowly declining and the start of computer programmed employees rises, we have become so familiar with the technology age that we may soon forget what it truly feels like to be human. Although products like this may be of interest to parents or college individuals whom are looking for ways to either occupy their children or receive information at the instant one speaks, we are allowing these devices to take control as the dominant force in our lives. On a much larger scale, “Alexa” is just a mere fragment of the plague that is rapidly spreading. But what’s most important in this article is the subject here- our youth. As adults we see this era as opportunity for inventions we may have never believed to be attainable, so we invest. It seems as if almost everyone has an IPhone in current times, or some newly developed apple watch or google glasses. But it isn’t the fact that we are entertaining ourselves with such product, it is the responsibility that we push upon these devices. We allow our phones to hold our credit information, information about our lives, and to monitor our children. The faith we expand towards these devices is unimaginable, despite the true vulnerabilities that underlies these products. In terms of the youth, our youngest generation has adopted these devices as another parent figure, prone to all of the information the world conceals and decisions that the device thrusts upon the consumer. The true problem here has to be our development in the technology field, not because the systems seem to be gathering greater knowledge or adapting with more innovations, but rather because we as humans are stuck in the same mental frame with very little knowledgeable growth about these products. We must use these devices wisely and every once in a while step outside into the “real-world” for a breath of air, because if we lack to do so we will trap ourselves within the virtual reality of the cyber-world.

  21. Caroline Jean Philippe February 9, 2018 at 6:42 pm #

    Technology is running ramped today. It is blossoming everywhere from the phones that are in everyone’s hand to virtual world simulators. Technologies plumage could be a good thing and a bad thing. Artificial Intelligence can help people complete things and access information more quickly. Technology can get in the way of social interaction if it is not used with moderation because it can reduce people’s ability of knowing what it is like to connect with someone. Artificial Intelligence is the process of giving technology human like intellect which could be dangerous because like in the sci fi movies what if they get too smart and revolt against human beings. The bonding experience is very important amongst humans because it allow us to build relationships with the people we know and love. If people allow technology (which is already a major part of everyone’s life) to take place of what humans are supposed to know technologies like Alexa can turn people into robots that are technology dependent.
    Most kids and teens of this generation do not get to experience life as it should be because they are either occupied with their phone, computer, or Tv, texting, playing video games and watching other people’s glorious lives on Instagram instead of making their own lives great and experiencing life. The experience that grace had with Alexa is a clear example of the danger of having too much technology in a person’s life.
    Graces father did the right thing by not letting Alexa impede on graces decision-making abilities. Alexa is a very useful device just like how many other devices are useful in the way that “she” does, but people should be careful and know when to set boundaries on how they let technology take part in their lives. If people do not use technology with moderation it may corrupt people’s way of life and future generations will come into a world where they will not be able to experience life in the way, it should be experienced and that is not fair. Technology if not used responsibly can be unhealthy and can have negative effects on the human experience.

  22. Ryan Blume February 9, 2018 at 7:54 pm #

    What we are seeing is kids relying more and more on technology. This isn’t entirely a bad thing because everyone, not just kids, should adapt to what is available. It was that long ago that if you needed directions to drive somewhere, you needed a map. While driving, people always had to look at the map to be sure of where they were going. This was inconvenient for them, especially because they couldn’t 100% focus on driving. Now, because of technological advances, people use a GPS for directions. When you type where you want to go, the GPS will speak and tell you where to go. It makes it easier to focus on driving. People adapt to this new technology because it is convenient for them. If kids find technology useful to them, they should be able to use it to.
    However, regarding Grace’s situation, she was starting to develop an unhealthy relationship with a machine. There is nothing wrong with asking a machine what the weather is going to be, or to play music, but Grace was starting to treat a machine like a person. “Alexa, shut up,” she barked, then looked a little sheepish and asked me if it was O.K. to be rude to her. So she thought the speaker had feelings?” (Botsman) Grace was treating the machine like an actual person. This was a sign that she was getting too attached to technology and it could have been the start of a trend. According to the article, children believed that they could teach the machines to do things like make paper planes. Children were getting the impression that machines could be humans as well. The one thing that really bothered Botsman was how well Grace trusted a machine. One example she cites is when Grace was deciding what clothes to wear. She didn’t like her mom’s opinion about what to wear, but Grace always respected the machine’s opinion. Part of being a parent is helping your child make decisions, especially about life. I wouldn’t like it either if my child relied on a machine to do my job of being a parent. That’s why I agree with Botsman’s decision to take the machine away from Grace. She was abusing her relationship with a machine and it was starting to affect her relationship with her mother as well.

  23. Dean Spenzos February 9, 2018 at 8:50 pm #

    This article brings up an interesting point I have actually thought about in the past. I remember when I was a kid I would receive board games and interactive toys for Christmas and my birthday. Now that I’m a little older and have younger cousins I see what they are being given for Christmas and birthdays and it is ALL electronics. I thought it was a little odd when I first noticed it because I wasn’t allowed to have a phone until middle school but now my cousin who just entered middle school has had the most recent iPhone for the past few years they have released one. Kids today or born with technology all around them every day. Since they grow up with it they are almost forced to trust it because it performs every day tasks for us like alarms, calendars, calculators, and weather forecasts. Talking computers like Alexa and Google Home are becoming normal and kids are starting to see them like a part of their family.
    I don’t agree with the part of the article that talks about kids trusting technology to make decisions for them, I only think the author’s daughter was experimenting with Alexa to find out what she was capable of. It doesn’t seem like kids want to trust computers with legitimate life decisions whether they will answer truthfully or not. It feels like the author thinks kids will form lasting bonds with these computers. This is an over exaggeration and it is just in the nature of younger kids to be curious and see what different things can do. Regardless, in the future everyone will probably trust computers with more responsibility like performing physical tasks. We can see some of these physical tasks in Domino’s delivery robot and Amazon’s drone deliveries. This kind of development is undoubtedly where we are heading but most people will not allow technology to make decisions like what job to accept. Additionally, there will probably be security systems that would stop technology from performing tasks, online or physically, without our permissions. Some things cannot be left to a computer and kids will come to that realization once they grow up a little and have learned more about this topic. This issue is not something that will go away soon and there will always be controversy about how much trust we should put in these algorithms.

  24. Ryan Mack February 20, 2018 at 9:55 pm #

    This article brings to mind and spurs thought of what the future, a future not too far away, will be like particularly in our relationship with AI or Artificial Intelligence. In the article, the author describes her ‘experiment’ including her 3-year-old daughter and Amazon’s Alexa. Her daughter learned that she could ask Alexa virtually anything she wanted to beginning with the weather and later moving on to more personal questions as well as commands like playing music and shopping. The preschooler had almost begun to see Alexa as an actual person, one day telling Alexa to shut up and asking her mother if it was okay to be rude to Alexa. The author makes a valid point that in the past, the most we had ever trusted a machine was for it to do what it was expected and designed to do. We would never call a washing machine, ATM, refrigerator, or even a phone, at least in the past and less so presently, by name or to form some type of relationship with them. As time moves on, especially for the younger generation, people will rely on AI to make decisions for them. At one point, the author’s daughter had even been asking Alexa what she should wear. The author felt she was being replaced, though I think her daughter’s intent was only to see what Alexa could do and how much of a ‘person’ she is. Artificial Intelligence, although technically still in its early stages of development, is already getting into everything we do. You can command Alexa, Siri, and Google Home to control smart home devices such as adjust the room lighting. the climate control, and to even lock the doors. I prefer to do all of these things on my own. These virtual assistants are on your phone and computer and even in cylinders that sit on your countertop. Soon they’ll be driving your car. I personally don’t care for or often use these products. The most I use Siri to control is my wireless speakers to play music. Besides Siri and the Xbox Kinect, I don’t own any other ‘smart’, voice controlled, or AI devices. Even though I, most probably similar to a significant number of others, may not like the idea that AI is coming to control or work in almost every aspect of our lives, we will have to simply accept, embrace, and adapt, or there will be some tough difficulties in the road ahead.

  25. marcello bertuzzelli March 2, 2018 at 7:30 pm #

    Although the argument in this article slightly hint towards the fact that Amazon is slowly controlling and monopolizing large portions of the world and the things in it, my position stands less with the thought of amazon and more with the thought of robots in general. Yes, the concept of robots taking over seemed very comical years ago, but that was before certain advancements were made and the human mind began to expand on the possibilities of exactly what could happen with a little more programing. This article seemed like a story that could have been made up in a matter of minute’s with how basic it is, involving a little girl and her mom, but to me that is what makes it so scary. The fact that a little girl, someone so innocent can be effected makes the story very real and put us at accountability. I was raised in a strict house that was not into technology. We were “outdoors” people. Growing up I spent my time riding bikes, exploring the woods, fishing, and playing with my friends. I didn’t have a phone till I was 13 and only got it because I was going into high school and my mom was scared I’d get kidnapped. I always thought that when I had kids of my own, I would treat them the same way I was. I wanted to raise them without them being dependent on technology as a child, getting used to playing games on my phone and at the dinner table. That is not right. Unfortunately, I think that I am at the wrong end of the barrel, as times continue to move on, it is harder and harder to escape the never ending flow of advancement. I do not see it as dangerous where we can be physically harmed, but I do think psychologically it is taking a toll on us, especially if you are okay with your three-year-old daughter’s best friend being a speaker.

  26. Lucas Notarianni March 13, 2018 at 1:34 pm #

    Rachel Botsman is a little dramatic about her project with Grace. I believe Grace at three years old will act very similar to people as she will to Alexa as she would possibly with toys.
    To begin with, I think this incident with Alexa has to do more with children’s imagination and trust than it does to how people will develop with AI bots. Grace is a quick learner from asking questions as if Alexa was a person, to becoming in charge of telling Alexa what to do, to building a relationship. The Alexa was given to her as a mystery of what she can be asked. Given a common name, along with a voice like a human, Grace asked it similar questions she would to a person. I think the reasons kids ask “how old are you” or “what are you” are to see the bot’s responses. Using imagination children at such a young age tend to talk to toys and dolls giving them commands or role-play situations like playing school. Rachael is just overreacting because the Alexa can talk back, unlike the dolls children play with. All in all, I believe it is more imagination, or thinking there is a person with a microphone coming from the bot, instead of believing the bot is real.
    In addition to imagination, the majority children according to Botsman say that they believe everything Alexa tells them. As a robot, I too would believe they should be programmed to tell the truth about information, so I put some of my trust in their forecasts of the weather or other information. I have not yet seen the Alexa that can tell if your outfit is the best to wear, but I would not believe it as much as a child would. In my experience, children tend to believe everything you say as long as it is said in a moderately convincing way. They also spill a lot of information where older children learn not to tell everyone as much information. The same follows to the Alexa. I believe Grace puts her trust into it because there is no other reason to not trust it. It is just a common way a child acts in my eyes which is why I think that Botsman is overreacting on how children interpret Alexa because they have greater imaginations and do similar things with toys that do not give a response back.

  27. Brian Graziano April 6, 2018 at 3:31 pm #

    The technology that has evolved over the past decade is simply amazing and has blown everyone away. Not only does new technology such as the Amazon echo and i phones make our lives easier, it also gives us something to do. Personally owning an Alexa myself, I enjoy asking it useful questions such as what is the weather like outside, what is the forecast for this week. But in no way do I find myself relying on my Alexa for life choices. Grace’s mothers is way too concerned with future generation’s use of Artificial Intelligence and their decision making. To me this is a little ridiculous. As Grace grows up, she will realize her own identity, and make her own decisions without the use of Alexa. Instead, the real problem with technologal advancements is substituting robots for human workers simply because it will be cheaper for companies to pay robots who are more efficient and productive then a human worker. Unemployment rates will skyrocket when robots take over jobs, and this will be a big economical problem.

    It is true that current as well as upcoming generation’s are addicted to new technology, which can be a bit concerning. This may have an effect on the child’s future life skills, learning skills and social skills. It is important to understand nothing is bad for you if used in moderation. The same applies to technology. Overusing technology will lead to reliance on it, and that is a problem most children have.

    All in all, Grace’s mother does not make valid justification to her argument and she is overly concerned on such a small matter, and should rather be concerned with AI taking over many jobs in the future.

  28. Grace Galuppo April 13, 2018 at 6:17 pm #

    The dependence on technology has increased vastly in the past several years. In addition, children start learning how to use technology at an early age. It is important for parents to monitor how their children are using technology; however, many parents are unaware of the implications that come with technology usage.
    After reading this article, I was shocked to learn about the marketing strategies that lies behind Amazon’s Alexa. Amazon are working on a product called an Echo Look, which has a feature that will allow the Alexa to take a hand – free selfie with voice recognition. The camera will allow Amazon’s cloud to see what clothes you wear, which they can use to formulate specific advertisements for that particular consumer. Although I believe that Amazon is invading the privacy of their consumers, I must admit that their advertising strategy is brilliant. Furthermore, Amazon will be able to use the data their devices collect for their personal gain or they can sell to another company. Amazon is already a huge powerhouse, but with their increasing data and information about consumers, they will have no competition.
    I do not have an Alexa, but many of the kids I babysit have one and use it frequently. Similarly to Gracie, the children I babysit for like to ask Alexa to play their favorite music or to tell them a joke. I did notice how dependent the children are on their Alexa. In addition, the younger children tend to have a greater reliance on Alexa and other technologies than the older ones. For instance, whenever a younger child has a question they ask Alexa for the answer, instead of trying to figure out what the answer could be. My observations lines up with the M.I.T. Media Lab experiment, where they took a sample of twenty – seven children to test Alexa, Google Home, Julie, and Cozmo devices. The results show that 80% of children believed that Alexa was telling the truth and the younger children saw the devices as real people.
    What will the world look like in fifty years when those children growing up with these devices grow up? In order to avoid the privacy problems that come along with using devices like Alexa, parents must be aware of what they are allowing in their houses. If parents taught their young children to be mindful of what they are using to Alexa or how they use their other data because everything can be tracked.

  29. Kelly L. June 1, 2018 at 10:31 pm #

    This article written for the New York Times by Rachel Botsman raises really strong points to how easily technology has been integrated into our day to day lives. I myself do not personally use “Alexa”, however, there is one located in my house and I find it unsettling with how much power she has. Botsman, says her daughter quickly learned how to boss around the device by telling her to “shut up” and “buy me blueberries”. To that I have trouble getting a sense of where the line is on overall interactions. I think it would be interesting to test in a social experiment if children who make commands to technology differentiate their tones and choice of words when speaking to humans or animals.
    Botsman follows her description of the interactions by reminding us that we don’t talk to nor trust other forms of technology. We don’t verbally tell our dishwasher to turn on and we don’t trust that the oven will cook for the right amount of time. When it comes to phones or computers we seem to tell them more about us even though it could potentially be riskier.
    On the risky side, Botsman points out a study that claimed “80 percent of children thought Alexa would tell the truth”. This can be a scary situation if the power of controlling these platforms falls into the hands of the wrong people. They can easily program incorrect or harmful responses that children can follow.
    Overall, Botsman’s experiment to see how easily Alexa affected her daughter’s life is something that can be very influential to other parents. We live too dependent on the technology that we very seldom question if its benefiting or hurting us.

  30. Jillian J September 22, 2018 at 12:56 am #

    In today’s society, children are being raised with technology. Technology is incorporated in many different aspects of their lives; many children are given tablets with educational games. This younger generation is raised trusting machines and technology because they were the tools used from their first memories. Children can be trusting and if children are raised with this technology it will be something they grow to rely and trust. People put trust into a code which is designed to use the information to try to sell more things, in Alexa’s case. As stated in the article, the upgrade to have Alexa see you has the ulterior motive of using more information to specify which ads to show to the individual. The coding is made to gather information needed to make more money. When children are able to give their information from a young age, these codes will have more information on these individuals.
    The experiment solidifies many fears that people have on how technology will be used in the future. The trust in machines is growing as people are raised with them from birth. Botsman’s child forms a relationship with the machine and believes the machine has feelings and opinions. The daughter was ready to ask any question that came to her mind. Technology is being easily embraced, with repercussions of this trust not being realized until it’s too late. Amazon gave Alexa a name to have people accept her easily, which essentially worked. The daughter even yelled at Alexa and then apologized. She expressed emotion and felt obligated to apologize to a machine that does not have feelings. Personalizing machines gives people a bigger reason to trust them and gives companies more access to information.

  31. Sabrina Torres October 4, 2018 at 8:48 pm #

    After reading this article, I noticed how devices like the Alexa have an impact on the children of the next generation. With the constant advances in technology, children are being introduced to these devices that they depend their life on. From my own personal experience, I constantly see children using iPhones, tablets and iPads to play games and they become oblivious to the world around them. Many of the times when parents and them this technology, it is a way to stop them from misbehaving or being disruptive in public. The writer Rachel Botsman stated many clear examples of how quickly children can get influenced and stuck on technology. One reason I believe kids are so intrigued by devices like Alexa because they get the constant gratification of Alexa communicating with them and sharing all sorts of information in a blink of an eye.
    When Rachel Bostman explained how her daughter treated the device like a person, I believe it truly shows that these type of devices should just be used by adults. A children’s mind is too underdeveloped to understand that these devices are not actually real and don’t have feeling like human beings. I personally own an Alexa device myself and for the most part I find it very helpful. I normally use it to make my grocery list and it makes it easier for me when going shopping. Being an Alexa device owner, I find it creepy how the new devices can now see you with the new Style Check feature. Amazon is doing this in order to linger consumers into buying more products that fit their style.

  32. Kent Flores October 5, 2018 at 2:07 pm #

    After reading the article “Co-Parenting With Alexa” by NYTs, a realization of what artificial intelligence can do for humanity, made me come to the conclusion that the generations after me will be smarter than I ever will be; not just smarter, but also more ignorant of how they are being manipulated into doing what huge corporations want them to do. For example, a kindergartener with an Amazon Echo will no way more than I did at that age, but will also become a compulsive online buyer at an earlier age. In store shopping and online shopping are extremely different in the sense that one does not value money when it is not physical. It is easier to restrain yourself from purchasing more than you need when you have the cash in your hands, as opposed to just seeing a balance on a screen. Corporations like Amazon invest heavily on research to find ways that make a person purchase more. These researches lead to better marketing techniques, new tools for paying, machines that allow you to browse through websites, and making websites more user friendly. The Amazon Echo is a great example of what modern day research has came up with. The Amazon Echo has built in artificial intelligence that produces answer to peoples’ questions. The Amazon Echo even has a female voice which sounds soothing and calm, almost as if it were replicating the voice of a mother. Amazon uses these new artificial intelligence voices in order to get the customer addicted through emotion. Mostly everyone loves their mother and especially little children. These little children will grow up thinking that the Amazon Echo is like a parental figure, but better because it never talks back to them. This can become a huge problem, because children are learning to interact at a very young age with artificial intelligence and become accustomed to being in control of that artificial intelligence. This modern day parenting can produce in abundance, children who are disobedient to real adults, other peers, and even to their own family members. The corporations that are creating these artificial technology do not care about the effects of their product. Corporations only care that their product becomes a profit, and that it makes it easier for the customer to access their online store and purchase from them again. Once I become a parent I will definitely put limitations on my child so that he or she can learn the difference between the real and virtual life.

  33. KConrad October 5, 2018 at 9:54 pm #

    The use of technology today has made the lives of many much easier, while on the other hand it has caused a dependency that we have easily passed down to our children. We pass it down in our homes, and even educators tend to do it in schools by being reliant on smart boards and tablets. Teachers have help in that so much is made available to assist them and helping them keep track of things that their students do that they would normally be doing. Using the Alexa device makes it no different. I would say that as long as the adults understand the way this technology can harm the children therefore keeping them away would be the expected thing.

    Technology is necessary however, I do fear that many parents are overwhelmed as it is. Gadgets like Alexa should not replace what a parent should be giving to their child. Human connection and interaction is extremely important and if we are not careful we can easily forget that. It’s interesting to see how this new “co-parent’ affects children in everyday circumstances. Does it diminish their ability to easily communicate with their elders? Is learning most successful when it’s done through a robot of some sort? These are all issues that should concern most caregivers. Possibly the best answer is to keep these devices away from your children as long as you can, because it surely seems like it is the way of the future!

  34. Arthur Herpreck October 6, 2018 at 4:43 pm #

    The use of technologies, in this case a robot, are becoming a part of todays society. Children tend to spend more time using screens than playing outside. My 3 year old little cousin is able to unlock his older sisters phone and play games on it. It is something that was not possible a couple of years ago and it is a sign of a big change in todays education. Parenting is a complete different task now. I would say that parents used to restrict people and had to order them to be home at a certain moment of the day, for example dinner. And in the future parents will be most likely asking their children to go out and play outside instead of staying home.
    But the impact of the technologies is a little controversial. As much as it influences people to stay home and spend less time with other people, it connects the user to the world and link more people together. It is mostly a difference in the type of relations. In a decade and more, the business world will be much different because the people that are going to be seeking for a job will have different type of habits, maybe the offices will disappear and everything will be made from home, online. Maybe people will not look at each other in the eyes when meeting each other, and shaking hands will not happen anymore. ?To avoid this type of robotization of the world, I believe in the the role of the parents to prevent the world of the robots colonization. It is important that children play outside, do sports, write on paper instead of computers and all these kind of little acts that need to not disappear.

  35. Selena October 8, 2018 at 10:11 pm #

    The future generations are going to grow up trusting and relying on the artificial intelligence devices. The article proved that Alexa can now answer all of the questions an individual has, the author’s daughter no longer has to attend to her questions. Prospective generations are going to depend on and treat the devices as actual humans. The article showed that the author’s daughter was greeting Alexa in the morning before she greeted everyone else. I think we have to be concerned about the reliance on these devices.
    The dependency on technology is rising. I think most of us cannot go a day without using some sort of technology — it is everywhere. Children growing up with these devices must be taught to caution the security and privacy issues that derive from artificial intelligence devices. Trust is acquired quickly, but do we really know the true intentions of the devices? There are ethical and commercial implications that arise and the extent of trust for artificial intelligence devices is questionable.

  36. Viviana B March 1, 2019 at 8:24 am #

    Home devices, such as the Amazon Echo, are influencing incoming generations’ capability of making their own decisions. Today, most parents allow their children to interact with small electronic devices for the purpose of entertainment. Inclusively, it is said that children will learn to interact with home devices even before learning to read a book. However, parents are failing to recognize that these devices are negatively impacting their children’s development span. Alexa devices reply opiniated answers (set by algorithms) to children’s questions that sway their decision making. Alexa also creates characteristics for herself such as age, that persuades children into thinking that the device is no different than a human. Although it now seems like a minor issue, the overuse of these devices can create a more severe repercussion that will eventually affect children’s future. As children grow, they will lack the essential skills to communicate appropriately in a workplace due to their excessive interaction with home devices. Children will grow up dependent on home devices telling them what to do and when to do it. Botsman explained that autonomous machines will make decisions about everything from whether to eat mac and cheese or green bowl for dinner to giving advice on whom to date. As they become adults, this will affect their work and life decisions as they will struggle to make decisions based on their own knowledge and not that of a machine’s algorithm. Children, who are raised in an environment that is surrounded by autonomous devices, will not be able to function as independently as current humans.

    Alexa has not only become an essential home device in most U.S. homes, but it has also become a universal parent, gradually impacting the lives of children all around the country. Children depend on Alexa to read them stories, tell jokes, and play music for them among other things. Botsman mentioned that her daughter interacted with Alexa to help her with her math homework. From my childhood experience, I remember my parents being the ones to make me laugh or help me with my homework. Alexa is slowly substituting the role of parents, essentially creating generations that have a higher demand for robots rather than humans. Botsman also wrote that her daughter learned how to command the Alexa device to buy her items like blueberries. This develops concern around the idea that if Alexa can speak to our children, read them stories, help them with homework, and even order items they need, then what will the parenting role consist of? We also must remember that this is just the beginning, and as technology advances, devices like Alexa, will have the capability of doing much more than what they do now. Essentially, co-parenting with Alexa will transform into fully parenting by Alexa.

    Amazon’s new development of Alexa being able to see and comment on one’s outfit, makes me feel very uncomfortable. Alexa will essentially decrease diversity by persuading humans into all dressing the same. Not to mention that people will lose control of the way they choose to express themselves because they will rely on a device to make the best decision for them. Alexa, along with other home devices was created to facilitate simple tasks, while allowing humans to remain in total control. However, as technology strengthens, it seems as if it is the contrary and the devices are gaining more control over us. As a society, we can choose to take the final step as Botsman did and put our home devices away in the closet. We can save our children and future generations from becoming fully controlled by autonomous agents.

  37. Divyaa Sarin March 2, 2019 at 12:27 pm #

    After reading the title of this article, I immediately knew that this article was about the famous Amazon voice activated robot, Alexa. Our generation is so dependent upon using technology as a form of guidance. I find it incredible how younger children tend to trust highly upon the opinions of these smart machines as oppose to their parents. Over the years, Alexa has formed credibility through Amazon and many people have bought this machine. However, I never thought we would form such a relationship with a device. Children must be thought that they can’t depend on technology for everything. Unfortunately, our generation advertises these machines as beneficial which is the whole purpose of technology in order to make our lives easier.

    Personally, I believe technology should not hold so much power over a person’s life. We make these machines to help us, yet we feel obligated to rely on them for so much help. There is a limit to everything. Technology like Alexa does not have real feelings or emotions because it is not a human! Children must acknowledge the difference because they are young and are already heavily relying on these products to guide them in every aspect. I found it surprising how the authors daughter, Grace, relied on fashion help from Alexa as oppose to her mother. This is not the purpose of Alexa. In my opinion, Alexa is supposed to help you find out the news tell you the weather, or help buy you something from Amazon. Alexa is not supposed to take parenting roles and act as a human. This is where children tend to get confused. I think parents need to take control over their children in situations like these. The author, Rachel Botsman, in the end when she put Alexa away into the closet, that was the right thing to do in that situation because her daughter formed an overly attached relationship with the robot.

    Alexa reminds me of a more complex form of Apple’s Siri. Siri was first developed in 2010 and Alexa came out recently in 2017. Siri was originally made to assist us with our questions and was easily accessible on our iPhone’s. The main problem with Alexa is that it’s on a whole different device. Amazon products had purposely released a whole new device called “Echo” which has the software Alexa installed in it. Personally, I think it’s a waste of money. When I have Siri on my iPhone which is portable, why should I pay $100 for a device that only carries the Alexa software. Technology needs to be used for its sole purposes of benefitting us but not the point where we depend on it so heavily.

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